Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Delphic maxims from Ai-Khanoum

Ai-Khanoum (lit. "Lady Moon" in Uzbek) is located in Kunduz Province of Afghanistan. City was founded by Alexander the Great around 328 BC. City may have been Alexandria on the Oxus, or later named اروکرتیه or Eucratidia. The site was excavated through archaeological searches by a French DAFA mission under Paul Bernard between 1964 and 1978, and looks just like a Greek city, including temples, a heroön, palace, colonnaded courts, city wall, gymnasium (sport school), houses, Corinthian columns, free-standing statues, and a theater with 5,000 seats.

The inscription with the Delphic precepts, at Ai-Khanoum

In Ai-Khanoum have been found various inscriptions in Classical Greek. Robert Lane Fox, about the Greekness of those inscriptions, said:

"Excavations at Ai Khanoum on the northern border of modern Afghanistan have produced great quantities of Greek inscriptions and even the remnants of a philosophical treatise originally on papyrus. One of the most interesting is the base of a dedication by one Klearchos, perhaps the known student of Aristotle, that records his bringing to this new Greek city, Alexandria on the Oxus..."

On a Herôon (funerary monument), identified in Greek as the tomb of Kineas (the oikistes, founder, of the Greek settlement), it's written:
ἀνδρῶν τοι σοφὰ ταῦτα παλαιοτέρων ἀνάκει[τα]ι
ῥήματα ἀριγνώτων Πυθοὶ ἐν ἠγαθέαι·
ἔνθεν ταῦτ[α] Κλέαρχος ἐπιφραδέως ἀναγράψας
εἵσατο τηλαυγῆ Κινέου ἐν τεμένει.
Bactria — Aï-Khanoum — 3rd c. BC — CRAI 1968.421-430 — Merk.-Staub., Jenseits Euphrat 103A; Fouilles Aï-Khanoum VIII (1992) 389,1a — Merk.-Staub. III 12/01/01

English translation:

"These wise sayings of older men, far-famed, are dedicated in holy Pytho; from where Clearhus assidously copied these things and set them up in the temenos of Cineas to shine out far and wide."
παῖς ὢν κόσμιος γίνου,
ἡβῶν ἐγκρατής,
μέσος δίκαιος ,
πρεσβύτης εὔβουλος,
τελευτῶν ἄλυπος.
Bactria — Aï-Khanoum — 3rd c. BC — CRAI 1968.424-426, 429 — Merk.-Staub. III 12/01/01

English translation:

"As children, learn good manners
as young men, learn to control the passions
in middle age, be just
in old age, give good advice
then die, without regret."


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